Arie Schenk was there at the beginning of Whanganui's Community Patrols — and has now decided to call it a day.
To honour the man and his contribution, a farewell afternoon tea was held last Wednesday at the canteen at Police HQ in Bell St.
Patrick O'Leary, chairman of Community Patrols, welcomed the large gathering and introduced life member Warwick Laws to talk about Arie.
He called him "nature's gentleman" and said how much he enjoyed working with him and getting to know him as a friend. Warwick then recited the life story of Arie in abbreviated form, starting as a 19-year-old junior engineer in the Dutch Merchant Navy in 1950, rising to Chief Engineer, to 2002, when he and his wife Jannie arrived in New Zealand from the mountains of the Vumba in Zimbabwe. It was quite a list, as Arie has lived and worked in six countries.
Arie is 86 years old.
Area Commander Inspector Nigel Allan spoke on behalf of the police.
"From a police perspective, I hope you all understand the appreciation we have for the role you play as Community Patrol and in the wider group in the community. You are an integral part of us, helping us make the community the safest it can be. We have a stunningly strong Community Patrol here, so to give 10 or 11 years to the community the way you have done deserves recognition."
Inspector Allen extended his appreciation to Arie for his service and presented him with a plaque commemorating the occasion.
"We came here in 2002," said Arie, "and I found out from my little book that on November 23, 2005 I started [as a police volunteer] and Graham Walker was my instructor."
He reminisced about the extensive community contact of the early days when they were based at the office in Maria Pl.
"We were part of the town," he said.
"During the time I was with CPNZ I made some good friends ... and I really enjoyed it. I'm retiring now because I think I've done my share."
He retired in 1995 in Zimbabwe and later came to New Zealand under sponsorship of his son. He was not allowed to take a paid job here so looked for a way to volunteer his services and extensive knowledge. When he started working for the police he said there was a long list of things they had to be trained in.
"Stolen property, lost property, found property, trespass notices — all these things you had to do." He remembers going around second-hand dealers making a list of things they had sold that week. The details were entered into the computer.
"We started off as volunteers, then CPNZ started later."